It’s Black History Month in the UK and three British artists have been commissioned by Adobe Stock to create illustrations featuring the people they believe are shaping and have shaped the UK’s black history. Utilising techniques from impressionism to pop art, the creatives fused classic artistic styles with new technologies to reimagine their favoured icons.
West London-based Joshua Boateng chose to celebrate one of the UK’s best-known newsreaders, Sir Trevor McDonald, and actress Letitia Wright, taking inspiration from the 1950’s Pop Art movement. “I chose [them] as I believe both characters reveal history can be created now, whether you’re young or old, male or female. By looking at the characters that are writing the story today, rather than people in the past, I hope it will encourage more people to make the most of the present and appreciate their everyday heroes,” Joshua explains.
Dorcas Magbadelo also chose a Pop Art style to reimagine authors Malorie Blackman OBE and Alexandra Shepperd, highlighting the role that literary icons can play in writing black history – as well as Nicholas Okwulu, the Peckham-based founder of Pempeople, an organisation that empowers people to share new skills and knowledge in the South London community. “Illustrating authors seemed an obvious route for me, as literature is key in almost all areas of modern history, and both Alexandra and Malorie are great examples from the UK. Nicholas on the other hand is also making waves and building a legacy at a local level in my area, and I wanted to pay homage to that,” says Dorcas.
Last but not least, Kia Amoa chose a 19th-century Impressionist style for her illustrations, which show influential figures such as Dame Shirley Bassey, Dianne Abbott and Benjamin Zephaniah. Kia says: “I wanted to capture both male and female heroes from different eras, past and present, all of whom come to mind when I think of the UK’s black history. There were so many great characters throughout history, so it was a hard decision!”